Chelsea Quick Hits

Post from Amy Lipton

[Ed. note: Abington Curator Amy Lipton, who used to operate a gallery in New York, went hot-footing around Chelsea recently and sent me an email with these thumbnail reviews which I thought were great. For more about goings on in Chelsea see our man Brent’s previous post.]

I went to as many galleries as my feet would permit last week in Chelsea and have to say that what Jerry Saltz said in his “Battle of Babylon” essay (Sept. 16 Village Voice. Read here.) does seem to be true. I started my day at 10:00 and walked from 18th to 29th by 5:00. The ever expanding Chelsea gallery scene is perfect for energetic 20-somethings and rich people with cars and drivers. I was determined to see as much as possible in one day. Visions of American culture at its wackiest are abounding and some of the standouts were:


Lisa Sanditz at CRG – funky tripped out colorful paintings that combine elements of abstraction and representation are based on U.S. road trips- strip malls, big box stores, housing developments and rural America at its strangest.

(image is Sanditz’ “Asbury Park 2”)

Adam Cvijanovic
at Bellwether– fantastic, a full 3-wall and ceiling mural painting of suburban Los Angeles with swirling houses, cars, signs, household litter, food falling out of the fridge – insane! it is called Love Poem and is supposed to be 10 minutes after gravity fails. To me it was an epic about American modes of consumption and excess, but rendered so well that it looked very appealing.


Next door was Chris Hanson & Hendrika Sonnenberg at Cohan and Leslie – more urban and domestic debris, but this time as elegant formal sculpture- a chain link fence, shopping cart, bike, etc.. in pale colored polystyrene (a real no-no on my material list but it served its purpose here).

(image is Hanson and Sonnenberg’s “Zamboni Tires”)

Sam Durant at Paula Cooper – “Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions” – his proposal to take actual massacre monuments and memorials (20 to dead white settlers and 5 to Native American dead) from around the country and install them around the National Mall in D.C. Installed in the gallery were replicas of the monuments as well as pencil drawings (I prefered the drawings). This was an elegant show of minimalist looking political work in the elegant and mininmalist Cooper Gallery. Commemorating the massacre of Native Americans seems like the perfect reality check- from our first colonialist massacre to the present one going on today.

Controlled Contained Configured at Bonakder– nature/culture clash, these ideas are always of interest to me and with artist Olafur Eliasson‘s beautiful aerial view grid of a glacial river in Iceland (Icelanders are doing a great job of preserving the natural beauty of their country and using hybrid hydrogen vehicles as we embark upon destroying more of Alaska in our relentless need for oil.) Also included are the ubiquitous, Mark Dion and Carla Klein, Uta Barth, Sandra Cinto and Mat Collishaw.


Sue Williams at 303– she seems to be getting back to her earlier semi/pornographic forms but in candy colors and highly stylized – better than the late DeKooning-esque abstract works she was doing for the past few seasons. Of course her best intense narrative work was what I was showing in the early nineties, but that was then…

(image is detail of Williams’ “Spring for the RNC”)

Tom Burkhardt at Caren Golden– AMAZING. This guy re-created his entire studio out of cardboard. Red Grooms meets Raymond Pettibone, a must see!

Leopold Kessler at Lombard-Freid Projects– sabotage, here is something that we need a bit more of around here. Without permission Kessler creates “public interventions” in various European cities (I guess they don’t have our ALERT system). Dressed in the right uniform and carrying a tool box he “readjusts” systems (utilities, etc…) in the public infrastructure without ever being detected.

Joel Sternfeld
at Luhring Augustine– I LOVED these photos. “Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America”. The title says it all- 30 photographs from a book of the same name chronicling the history of social experimentation in America including communes and early experiments in sustainable communal farming. It’s hard to imagine today but this show reaffirms that -yes, we do have a hist of progressive elements in American society.


Ed Burtynsky at Cowles– The downside of progress, this time all coming out of China. I had a piece by Ed in my show at AAC, ” Trouble in Paradise” (a Canadian river turned orange from nickel tailing pollution). His new retrospective just opened at the Brooklyn Museum (I didn’t get there), This new show of photographs at Cowles are beautiful, scary and a sober vision of the new world order in China that just might be about our future as well.

(image is one of Burtynsky’s photographs of old Chinese factories)

Krsysztof Wodiczko at Lelong– “If You See Something” -haunting and beautiful projections based on street conversations about terrorism with a barely audible sound component, but that didn’t matter, you get the picture – we are all being overheard.

–Amy Lipton is Curator at Abington Art Center where her new show “Passages” runs to November 23rd with Warren Angle, Michele Brody and Joan Bankemper.